Books help us learn, but books also help us love – Baptist News Global

Books help us learn, but books also help us love – Baptist News Global

There’s a certain magic that’s lost when there are no books. Deep connections are created through the intimacy of coming together and turning beloved pages, eagerly anticipating the words and illustrations that await us on the other side.

Books help us learn, but books also help us love. Whoever teaches us to read, loves us. Whoever writes what we like to read, loves us. Whoever reads along with us and mirrors our excitement about new knowledge, loves us.

Shelby Peck

Too often, the pleasurable purpose of books is overshadowed by the darkness of selfishness and the rhetoric of harm. Books are used to perpetuate injustice, and instead of making us feel like we can, they tell us we can’t.

Far too often it is women with an interest in ministry, myself included, have been told we can’t; this is a phrase that often appears in books. Many Christian authors use their gift of words and their respective platforms to publicize a plethora of adversities and barriers for women.

The continued publication of books that deny the influence of others rather than encouraging them to develop their thinking and cultivate inner strength discourages women from fulfilling their calling.

“Fortunately, there are also books written by women in office and by advocates of women in office.”

Thankfully, there are books written by women in ministry and advocates for women in ministry that tell women that they are gifted and called to lead through the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. These books provide their authors with a vehicle through which to tell their struggles and stories of survival, but they also provide their audiences with the opportunity to learn, shape, and reclaim their own stories and the stories of women in Scripture.

For me it is indeed the Bible, God’s Word is the ultimate authority by which I have learned to discern my calling.

For my Women in Ministry project in a classroom at Baylor University, I chose to write and illustrate a children’s book titled I am God’s Helper! I wrote this book as a symbol of love: a love that tells girls all they can be instead of all they can’t be, a love that empowers an adult to help a child they love learn to read, a love that celebrates the space of community and nurture in which children are meant to grow up.

The purpose of this book is to celebrate the diverse gifts and callings God has given women, whether they serve in vocational ministry or are active participants in the local church. Each page features a woman, “God’s Helper,” who serves in a different capacity in her local church, from the pulpit to the nursery to overseeing community outreach.

When children experience the different roles that women fill in the local church, they can imagine the real names and faces of the women they know, leading to a greater awareness of the women in their own lives and the positive influence they have. My hope is that this book will not only teach children from an early age that women are equipped and encouraged to serve in every ministry context, but also that parents will encourage their children to listen for future callings and foster relationships where their children feel supported in pursuing those callings.

We are not meant to grow and learn in isolation. Once we have the courage to find our voice, we are meant to teach others, to listen to their experiences, and to share what we have learned. Through books, whether they are sacred biblical texts or the sacred experience of what God has done in the lives of modern women, we are not alone.

“Books are powerful, but they are even more powerful when placed in the hands of someone who loves us and wants God’s best for our lives.”

We are not alone in our setbacks, and we are not alone in our steps forward. We have the Holy Spirit, and we have each other.

My parents often remember the days where, as a young girl, I would pull every book off our shelves and beg them to read it with me. I am so grateful for the desire for knowledge they instilled in me from an early age, and I am grateful for the countless hours they spent rereading all-too-familiar children’s books — books that told me I could do it, and taught me to find my voice through my own writing.

Books are powerful, but they are even more powerful when they are placed in the hands of someone who loves us and wants God’s best for our lives. I pray that a children’s book like the one I wrote will teach children, especially young girls, that they are equipped to follow God’s calling because they are supported by their caregivers and loved by their Savior.

The future still scares me, and I still struggle with feelings of incompetence. But I am not alone. I don’t think any woman in ministry ever feels ready, but what is vital is that she feels called. Hearing the call of the Spirit, even in fear, is courageous. And I am called.

Shelby Peck is a journalism and religion student at Baylor University.

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A Look in the Mirror at Women in Office | Opinion by Libby McGown

Women Have Strengthened My Faith | Opinion by Shae Whittle

To choruses of ‘But the Bible,’ I respond: ‘But the women’ | Opinion by Mandy McMichael

A Playlist for Women in Office | Opinion by Molly Parker